Yesterday we told you about the stern response from the Belize Sugar Industries Limited on the claim for payment on the Bagasse issue. And while that release stated that for 30 years BSI has taken on the responsibility and the liability of getting rid of bagasse, compounded by the fact that BSI came up with the idea to use bagasse to generate electricity and materialized in what they claim is the biggest private sector investment in the country amounting to 130 Million dollars, the release cited that it was done without the assistance or contribution from the BSCFA. BSI said that it is not just or fair to the company for the cane farmers to expect a return on an investment for which they have contributed absolutely nothing. Well, today, another round of fireworks was launched in the air as Vice Chairman of the BSCFA, Committee of Management, Alfredo Ortega, fired back stating that BSI is dancing around the issue.
Alfredo Ortega- Vice Chairman BSCFA
“Really and truly they are just going around the bush, they are not coming very clear with us we are not asking for electricity, we are asking for what the bagasse is providing, what the bio-fuel is providing to that electricity for Belcogen Plant to work and to convert that to electricity, we are asking for them to come and let us negotiate the portion of the bagasse not the electricity. With this letter that they have sent and that they have set a date and they have set the 19th of November to go to Belize with no direction only to Belize City, I don’t if they plan to take us to burying ground or to the Warf, I don’t where they plan to take us but this is truly a slap on the face of the cane farmers because we have been asking from them let us come and negotiate as partners of the industry come to the table and let them be clear with us what their financial are, they have had the decency to present to the Association their last two years financial report in regards to what they are getting from the sales of electricity to BEL, as a cane farmer and as a leader of the farmers I really feel that BSI is really drawing his foot and trying to corner us to a way that they feel that the point will come that we will say well ok we cannot fight this giant and we will come and leave things as they are no, no this time is not like that, I think that the Association is in a different position that it was ten, fifteen years ago, we have experts amongst us, we have technical people that are advising us, we will be getting advise from our lawyers very shortly to have legal opinion in a step forward.”
Maria Novelo – Reporter
“The basis of the release from BSI says that BSCFA has not contributed a penny when it comes to the bagasse issue in terms of the disposal and storage of it for many years now all of a sudden you guys have found an economic value in it and then they say that you guys are unjust and unfair because now you want a piece of a pie in an investment you haven’t made.”
Alfredo Ortega- Vice Chairman BSCFA
“Look, in any given thing they invested on the plant we invested on the product that is the sugar cane, the sugar cane and the plant combine create electricity but the product is investment from the cane farmers, when the Mill was settled the cane farmer didn’t put a cent to put that Mill, it was a company, it was Tate and Lyle that develop that Mill and the agreement came that the farmer will supply the cane to the Mill and that happened so, now they came and they build that and they are saying now that we didn’t had any investment on the plant, true we didn’t put a copper on it but all the tax exemption that they are getting for ten years who is paying for those taxes, who is paying the movement of what is going around Belize, it is us, so we have part of the investment there only because it is not directly it is indirectly but the direct portion of our investment is going throught the channel of the bagasse.”
BSCFA says they are looking into attaining the services of an attorney at law to take the matter to court, if all else fails. On Thursday, a meeting will be held with all branch Chairmen to discuss whether or not they will accommodate BSI’s request to meet in Belize City for negotiations, separate of the bagasse issue.
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